The highest quality organic ingredients, cooked with the absolute perfect cooking method can be ruined if we miss some details such as the cookware we use to cook our food with. There are some times of cookware that absolutely need to be avoided!
What cookware should we use to complete our healthy meals?
You can spend thousands of dollars buying the best cookware this or the best cookware that and if that makes you happy you should do that. Most healthy cooking though can be done by a couple of well made pieces of cookware.
When you saute your foods, the best cookware that I have found is a stainless steel skillet like this one:
|All-Clad Stainless-Steel Fry Pan
|All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan Lid
For steaming and boiling vegetables, the best kind of cookware I have found is this kind of steamer with a lid.
|Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Steel 4-Piece 12-Quart Pasta/Steamer Set
Using other kinds of steamers such as collapsible steamers or bamboo steamers can work but I have found them hard to handle and you can easily burn your hands.
Materials that are acceptable
Stainless steel, porcelain coated, tempered glass or cast iron are all good choices for material that your cookware can be made out of.
Material that are NOT acceptable
Aluminum and plastic cookware are completely unacceptable materials. Cookware made out of these materials may be convenient but they release small amounts of chemicals into the food. No matter how small the amount, over time it will have an effect on your health. Do not use them.
Cookware coated by Teflon is also completely unacceptable. Teflon is the “non-stick” cookware surface. A panel working for the EPA in Washington DC drafted a report that described Teflon as a “likely carcinogen”. Many different items that can be found in the majority of the modern kitchen contain Teflon. Apart from pots and pans, it can be found in woks, waffle makers, pancake griddles, deep fryers, slow cookers, bread makers, coffee makers, non stick rolling pans, just to mention few items. Keep in mind that the primary substance that Teflon is made out of is plastic. Plastic will decompose under high heat and toxic particles and fumes will be released at 464F. Its is not needed, just do not use it!
How about Microwaves?
Microwaves impact food nutrients the same way other forms of cooking. The higher the temperature that the food will be cooked in, the higher the loss of nutrients. So microwaving of food creates greater nutrient loss when we use higher heats, when we extend the heating over longer periods or when food is heated while submerged in water. On the other hand, if food is heated for a brief amount of time assuming it is not submerged in water, microwave heating can also protect vitamins and minerals. Heating food in the microwave for 1 minute or less is similar to steaming on the stove.
Apart from the nutrient loss issue, there are some studies although that raise some other issues:
One small study reported that after the consumption of microwaved food there was a short term decrease in the number of white blood cells in the study participants consuming the macrewaved food.
Another issue might be that some studies have found that the inability of microwaves to to eliminate E. coli or Listeria bacteria. Another study found that the amount of time it takes to cook food using microwaves might not be enough to kill Salmonella and Streptococcus bacteria.
The problem with these studies is that they are small and there has not been a wide-scale peer review.
There is one health concern that is well documented that is associated with usage of microwaves. This issue involves the choice of food containers used to place inside a microwave. Most plastics, including film food wrap and Styrofoam containers have been shown to migrate from plastic packaging into the microwaved food. Given this, in my opinion there is no good reason to take the risk. If you do decide to use microwaves, ONLY use them to warm up food for 1 minute or less and never use containers other then glass, Pyrex and microwave safe ceramics.